Today, I traveled for fifteen hours from Paris to Los Angeles and all that I want to do is shower, put on my coziest of sweats, nap, put on one of my cutest new sundresses and drive around to deliver the most amazing presents that I got to each of my friends. Only problem is, I can’t do any of those things since the airline lost both pieces of my luggage and can’t seem to locate them anywhere. Um, what?
I was overseas for one month and packed from my home in NYC to visit LA for another month – so these bags contain not just a few of my favorite things. They carried everything.
At first, I panicked – what if they were stolen? And then, I rationalized – this happens all of the time, they’ll find my bags and deliver them eventually. But what if they never came back? What about all of my things?
This whole scenario reminded me of one of my greatest life lessons that occurred about six years ago. I became fast friends with a girl who was tons of fun and very adventurous. She was going through a difficult time in her life and as was I. We both desperately wanted to run away and escape our realities, so naturally, when she broached the idea of backpacking Australia for the summer – I was all for it. Our apartment leases both expiring, we decided to store all of our things together and figure out a new plan when we returned.
I’d been living in LA for five years and had acquired quite the collection of ‘stuff’. My affinity for flea market finds had resulted in ownership of crazy chandeliers, antique birdcages, art deco mirrors and more. I was very proud of my ‘things’ being that I hunted and gathered each piece throughout the years and worked very hard to be able to afford them. At the time, I was working in the entertainment industry for many high-profile people – some of which handed down to me gorgeous clothes, handbags and other gifts given to them from Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Pucci, etc. Things that I would have never have been able to purchase for myself on an assistants’ salary. One celeb gave me a good portion of her vintage sunglasses collection – which became my prized possession. About twenty hard-to-find shades all by Dior, Cazal, Chanel – it was just… amazing. And then there were the shoes. I don’t know how I got so lucky to be her size, but another generous fashionista invited me over to help make room in her shoe closet by taking home whatever I fancied – at least a dozen pair came home with me. I was 24 years old, making close to minimum wage and wearing the coveted, sold out Christian Dior chain adorned ankle boots to meet my friends at IHOP. Too funny. I’m sharing with you all of this because I want to give you a taste of the impossibly awesome that went into storage before I left for an extended vacation. Dozens and dozens of little things that at the time, I considered made me a cooler, more worthy person.
Once in Australia, my new friend and I got to spend some real time together and realized that we didn’t have so much in common after all. We went our separate ways on a negative note and she left for LA early. Upon my return home several weeks later, I had the ultimate rug pulled out from under me when I went to collect my things from storage. It was gone. It was all gone. And so was she.
All that I had to my name was in a small suitcase full of flip-flops and sand. My heart shattered a little more every time I recounted the treasures that made me feel so special and knowing that they were forever gone.
I called my best friend who had recently moved to Austin, to tell her that I was even more lost now than I was before because I didn’t have my things. She convinced me to get on a plane to Texas, which I did. When I got there, she convinced me to purge my feelings by writing them down, which I did. I was such a wreck, overcome with so many emotions that once I started writing – I couldn’t break from it. For about 15 hours every day non-stop, I composed a fictionalized account based on all the things that happened to me before I left for Australia – my reasons for wanting to run away. Over six weeks driven by desperation – I wrote what would six years later be my debut novel, which is being published this fall.
I’d always wanted to live in New York City but I had so much ‘stuff’ it didn’t seem possible to move. I figured that I had nothing to lose, so from Texas I applied for a job in Manhattan and when they called for an interview, I took the last of my savings and bought a one-way ticket. I got the job and just like that, I became a New Yorker. Today, I feel extremely blessed because I know for a fact, that these blessings might not have happened had I not lost everything. Which it turns out to be, is not really anything at all. Stuff is in fact just ‘stuff’ and it doesn’t make you or your life better or worse.
My favorite saying and strongest belief is this: Sometimes the universe takes things away from you to make room for something better.
I hope that none of you ever lose all of your prized possessions because it’s nice to have nice things. But in the event that you do, just keep in mind that it probably means something greater is on the way.
Okay, time to wrap this column up – my luggage was just delivered, time to unpack – and thank goodness, let’s be real – it’s all my stuff!